Newsletter - Following abrupt policy change, clarifications & updates at GiH Conference | Sept. 28

Netherlands Gambling Authority to push for unlicensed operator blackout

Following an unexpected policy U-turn by Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection, the Netherlands Gambling Authority is now set to start pushing for a complete blackout of all unlicensed online operators from November 1 onwards.


Operators, including those currently subject to the cooling-off period, must shut down operations or face a fine of up to 4% of their Dutch revenues.


Significantly, the Netherlands Gambling Authority may also fine natural persons, such as executives, deemed to be responsible for directing or overseeing any violations of Dutch gambling laws.


Dekker's new enforcement directive and the Netherlands Gambling Authority's resulting enforcement measures, represent a sudden and clear break with previous policy, which prioritized eventual market channelization (to which operators currently subject to the cooling-off period were expected to eventually contribute) over providing immediate market exclusivity to fully licensed operators.


New prioritization criteria


Specifically, the Netherlands Gambling Authority has decided to implement new prioritization criteria for deciding whether to take enforcement action against a specific operator. This decision will (generally) be based on the following four criteria:


1. The current number of Dutch players/customers.

2. The harmfulness of the illegal offering.

3. The extent to which the illegal offering (successfully) competes with legal alternatives.

4. The extent to which the illegal offering is actively targeting Dutch consumers.


This means that online operators with a large, active customer base in the Netherlands will henceforth be first in line for enforcement action.


Impact: Market make-up & player channelization


This change in enforcement policies is expected to have a major impact on the make-up of the Dutch online market. Operators such as Kindred and Betsson, who are expected to eventually apply for a license, will likely temporarily withdraw from the market, leaving more room for Dutch land-based incumbents and those international operators who refrained from targeting the Dutch market in the past, such as Bet365.


This new approach, Minister Dekker admitted, will unfortunately have a negative impact on player channelization rates. Instead of switching to legal alternatives, a certain segment of newly "orphaned" players is now expected to end up with offshore operators that are wholly insensitive to regulatory pressure.


It is rather surprising that the government is now willing to accept this consequence, as increasing player protection through market channelization was, for an apparent majority of Dutch MPs, the very reason for regulating the online market in the first place.


Netherlands Gambling Authority publishes policy rule on operator reporting obligations

The Netherlands Gambling Authority has published a new policy rule, outlining the specific obligations of licensed online operators to report “relevant changes, behavior, and events” to the Dutch regulator.


Serious incidents that could have a significant impact on consumers, constitute a significant rule breach, or could negatively impact trust in the sector must be reported within 72 hours.


In related news, the Dutch regulator and the country’s media watchdog (Commissariaat voor de Media) signed a cooperation agreement that will see them work more closely in the supervision of advertising.


Upcoming events

The following events may be of interest to the GiH community.

  • Kindred Group will host the 6th annual Sustainable Gambling Conference on 5 October. The event will take place online and is free to attend.

  • Get ready for the 2021 Gaming in Germany Conference, which will take place 25 October at the Grand Hyatt Berlin.

  • The half-day event Reputation Matters: UK Gambling's Future at Stake, which takes place on 2 November in London, will take an in-depth look at the current and expected regulatory pressure facing the UK gambling industry.

  • SiGMA Europe has been rescheduled to 16 – 18 November, 2021.

  • The Betting on Sports America conference and expo has been scheduled for 30 November – 2 December, 2021 and will bring together all the major players in the fast-growing North American sports betting industry.

  • The World Gaming Executive Summit is returning live on 6 – 8 December, 2021 at the W Hotel, Barcelona.

  • ICE London and iGB Affiliate London have been scheduled to take place 1 – 3 February, 2022.

Following abrupt policy change, clarifications & updates at GiH Conference | Sept. 28

As mentioned previously in this newsletter, the regulated Dutch online market, which opens on October 1, will face major, last-minute changes in regulation and expected market make-up.


At next week's Gaming in Holland Conference, which takes place Tuesday, September 28, we will explain and make sense of the new situation.


This year's proceedings informally kick off with the Interxion/GiH business drinks on Monday, September 27, from 18:00-20:00. If you would like to join us there, you will have to register SEPARATELY by sending an email to: marketingnl@interxion.com.


The 2021 GiH Conference main program will feature:

· Keynote speech by Netherlands Gambling Authority Chair René Jansen

· CEO panel addressing the new market situation

· Future policy outlook by Dennis van Breemen, Ministry of Justice

· Remote license application lessons and bottlenecks

· Pertinent responsible gaming topics


In addition, there will be networking breaks, including lunch at Hotel Krasnapolsky's famous Wintergarden, and a canal cruise and drinks at Holland Casino Amsterdam, including a tour of the Private Loft and High Limit Area.


The full agenda is available here.


Please note: All GiH Conference visitors must show proof of vaccination, or a negative test result no older than 24 hours prior to the start of the event.


However, social distancing will no longer be required, and fully vaccinated travelers from the UK will no longer need to quarantine after arriving in the Netherlands.


See you next week in Amsterdam: Register today: https://bit.ly/3vJHiPU!


Other news

Holland Casino reports hopeful signs of recovery after being allowed to re-open in June. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the state-owned operator was forced to close for the first five months of 2021 and reported pre-tax losses of €64.8m during H1 2021.


International casino giant Las Vegas Sands uses Dutch subsidiaries to manage its tax liabilities.


Content provider Pariplay has lined up agreements with over 10 operator partners in the Netherlands.


DraftKings has made a surprise $22.4bn takeover offer for FTSE 100 operator Entain.


Following last week's departure of Betsson CEO Pontus Lindvall, Chairman of the Board Patrick Svensk was forced to resign after losing the confidence of the group's major shareholders.


Following public pressure, French gambling regulator ANJ is set to launch a nationwide public consultation on operator advertising practices.


The UK government is reportedly considering banning shirt sponsorships by betting firms.


PokerStars owner Flutter Entertainment has agreed to pay a $300m settlement to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, bringing an end to the long-running legal dispute between the two.